As a record 7.7 million Southern Californians get away for the holiday weekend, they'll be greeted with the lowest end-of-the-year gas prices since 2008, according to the Auto Club of Southern California.
Get it while you can, however, because this could be the last holiday in a while with prices so low. On Nov. 30 the omnipotent Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to cut back production, which immediately sent global fuel prices north.
The United States has been on a years-long run of unparalleled, self-sustaining production, so much so that we've been exporting to other oil-producing nations, such as Mexico. But the healthy domestic supply isn't enough to head off higher prices as a result of OPEC's move.
“Nationally, gas prices have seen their largest December rise in six years and are likely to continue rising through the holidays as oil-producing countries agreed to cut production, boosting oil and gasoline prices,” according to a statement from pump comparison site GasBuddy.com.
But GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan explained that the West Coast has been spared much of the bump so far. “The West Coast has been able to dodge the price hike because they have fairly healthy inventories,” he said.
“California and the L.A. market usually have among the most expensive gas prices in the country,” DeHaan said. “This time other areas, mainly around the Great Lakes, have the highest prices due to weather and refinery issues.”
Get it while the getting's good, then. The AAA says SoCal prices are hovering around $2.70 to $2.75 per gallon this week. It's as much as two cents higher than last week but four cents lower than last month.
“Gasoline demand from Mexico could be playing a role in preventing further price drops at local gasoline stations, as refineries both on the West Coast and Gulf Coast are reportedly shipping excess supplies there,” Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring said in a statement. “However, the 6.8 million Southland residents going by car to holiday destinations will be paying less to fill up than for any other Christmas/New Year’s holiday since 2008.”
DeHaan says that with U.S. production high and OPEC squeezing off its oil spigot, these might just be the good ol' days at the pump. “What we've already seen is the best we may experience for a few years,” he said.